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Chance Made Us Co-Leaders, Hearts Made Us Friends

Stacey Bingham
Chico CA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 42 No. 3, July-August-September 2006, p. 63

Have you seen those little plaques that say "Chance made us sisters, hearts made us friends"? I always thought they were a little corny. Now, a little more grown-up and a tad bit wiser about the way the world works, I see there really is truth in that trite saying, and the one person who helped me see it is my co-Leader, Tracey.

I was mentored by an LLL Leader my own mother's age. She taught me well, and we got along wonderfully, but she really was anxious to wean from her duties as a Leader once I became accredited. About 18 months after I became a Leader I got an email. "I am a Leader moving to your area and I would like to remain active." I was thrilled! A Leader for our Group!

Under normal circumstances, I tend to be a bit territorial. However, in my first LLL Group I remember a Leader, Amy, telling us she was very excited because another Leader was moving to her city (where Amy was then a lone Leader). I remember feeling surprised that Amy was happy about this; I thought my initial reaction would be to feel moved-in-on. Once Amy's co-Leader arrived, they worked hard building the Group up. If I had not seen her example, I may have felt differently when I got that first email from Tracey, but thanks to Amy, and Leaders like her, I was able to see the bigger picture of LLL and its mission.

Tracey and I arranged to meet for the first time at the park with our children. I was nervous! I kept waiting for her to pull into the parking lot. She arrived, and I saw we weren't that different from each other. We talked about our husbands, our children, and the LLL Group. I was satisfied with how things went.

We continued to have a pleasant, but somewhat superficial, relationship. We had fun performing our LLL work together, and our children got along splendidly. From my vantage point, this was how things would remain. I would say we were friends, but Tracey was not the person I called just to chat with or spend some time with -- it was all related to LLL.

Thinking about it now, this must have been a hard time for Tracey: I basically held all the keys. Being a bit of a perfectionist, sometimes I have a hard time letting things go and delegating tasks to others. Deep down I am afraid things won't be taken care of exactly the way I would take care of them. Tracey never said anything, but I am sure it must have been awkward for her. She never came right out and said, "I'm here, and ready for some responsibility. What can I do?" Honestly, if she had, I don't think I would have been ready; instead, I may have resented being pushed into making that decision. She was so patient with me!

Almost a year into our relationship Tracey and I were surprised to find we were both traveling to the same city for a weekend event unrelated to LLL. We coordinated our trip, complete with shared transportation and hotel room, and talked comfortably during the drive. Without the distractions of our children or our LLL jobs, we were able to really get to know each other as women, not as Leaders, mothers, or wives. I remember this being our very first deep conversation where we exchanged feelings about our lives -- the past, the present, and our hopes for the future.

Once we got to the hotel, the conversation did not stop. We were supposed to be up very early the next morning, yet we did not stop talking until 2 am. Even then, it required extreme discipline on both of our parts. We were tired that weekend, but energized by this newfound relationship. The weekend passed quickly.

That weekend made all the difference in how we got along. We allowed some of the walls to come down, and that brought us together -- not as Leaders, but as friends. What we needed was time where LLL and our families were not our focus. With our daily activities and usual LLL jobs out of the way, we recognized other facets of our relationship, and we were able to begin the cultivation of something that stands on its own, similar to the way you choose a friend, not to the way you learn to get along with a sister.

My eyes opened, too, to the ways in which we could co-lead. I was able to share Group work with Tracey and know that it would get done. Realistically, I knew she was not always going to do things the same way I would, and I learned to trust that Tracey would get things done in the way that was best for her and made sense to her. I am so grateful Tracey gave me the time to get to that point on my own -- yet another weaning in my life!

Today I can honestly say Tracey is one of my best friends. We talk constantly. We still pursue our common interests inside and outside of LLL. Just the other day I wrote her a note that said, "I would be so lonely without you," and I really meant it! She has brought so much joy to my life. She is that one friend I can call about anything, that friend I can drop in on, that friend who helps me see when the way gets dark. I trust her with my children (and she likes them, too!). She was with my husband and me during the birth of our last baby, being our supporter and our cheerleader. What I ever did to deserve a friend like her, I will never know. But I can honestly say: chance made us co-Leaders, hearts made us friends.

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